An Appreciation for Engaging Online Writers
By Olivia Lorber
“When Creative Expression Causes Controversy” by Brooke Steiner, who was a senior at MIAD at the time it was published, is a straight to the point article that expresses the inevitable controversy that comes with making art, especially public art.
Brooke goes on to list multiple examples of artists in Milwaukee whose work sparked conversation in positive and not so positive ways. They talk about specific murals that received lots of backlash and drew the opposite attention of what the artists had expected.
Many of the murals they spoke about are ones that I have seen and are pretty hard to miss if you have spent more than a couple of days in Milwaukee. One mural that garnered tons of negative attention is Andres von Chrzanowski’s mural of "The Unsung Hero" on the side of the Dye House building. It is quite literally impossible to miss. The mural of a seated woman in an apron with no head towers over the surrounding buildings. It was made to honor working women of the present and past. However, because of the fact a woman on her knees with no head was painted so largely, many people saw it and did not quite pick up on Andres message. In fact, it was a reminder of the rampant sexism in America.
Brooke Steiner did a great job at listing the intentions of these mural artists and the main reasons as to why they were controversial. Their style of writing was direct and concise, so much so that the murals I actually never got a chance to see, I was able to visualize them and understand why the public would have taken offense to them. After reading “Online Writing” by OnMilwaukee Senior Writer and Editor Molly Snyder, I was able to pick up on a lot of the ways that Brooke writes effectively.
It took very little time to read through their entire article, I was thoroughly involved in what they had to say and I finished reading with a good understanding of the importance of educating yourself before you approach making art on heavy subjects or popular figures. I understood why every artist Brooke spoke about was involved in this conversation, except their last example using the work of Amy Lunde, who was also a MIAD senior at the time of this publication.
The example Brooke included about Amy Lunde felt very out of place. Instead of reporting on an actual instance where the people of Milwaukee had deeply mixed feelings about an existing art work, the reaction to Amy’s work was hypothetical. Amy’s work represents the pain they feel and struggle with. Brooke mentioned that Lunde’s work “...could cause controversy because people from a different culture may think Lunde still has it better than they do.” This seemed like a very unlikely response and it did not actually occur which made it feel unrelated to the rest of the article. This is one of the only instances where I felt Brooke did not align with the advice of Molly Snyder. This section of Brookes article was written in more of a passive voice and almost entirely based on their personal opinion rather than a factual outcome as a result of the art work.
I greatly enjoyed reading this article as someone who is starting to focus my paintings on feminism and the experience of existing in a female presenting body. I understand that this subject matter comes with a lot of historical context so I want to be respectful of all identities as I continue with making paintings about the sexual objectification of women. Brooke Steiner’s article was very effective in translating the main areas of controversy when it came to these individual artists work. I was able to pick up pretty quickly on what not to do if I was in a position to make a largely public piece.
I have learned a lot about writing for an online audience from the way that Molly Snyder discussed holding a reader's attention and translating information effectively. Brooke Steiner was right on par with Snyder’s advice, the headline drew me in and their style of writing kept me engaged until the end.
I recommend reading it for yourself - https://onmilwaukee.com/articles/miad-series-creative-expression